Just a few decades ago, astronauts were our best and brightest–elite heroes in every sense of the word. Then NASA took a few steps back, the space program started inching toward the private sector, and our idea of an astronaut became Lance Bass. (Who didn’t even end up going into space.)
While astronauts of yesteryear had to meet rigorous physical and psychological standards in order to leave Earth, a new study from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston has some optimistic findings for everyday folks like you, me, and Mr. Bass. The study, published in the journal Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, found that average people with “common medical problems” like high blood pressure and asthma will probably be just fine in outer space. You might not need to be a superhuman after all.
“Physiological stresses of flight include increased acceleration forces, or ‘G-forces,’ during launch and re-entry, as well as the microgravity period,” said lead author Dr. Rebecca Blue in a statement. “Our goal was to see how average people with common medical problems, who aren’t necessarily as fit as a career astronaut, would be able to tolerate these stresses of an anticipated commercial spaceflight.”
The study was conducted by stuffing average people into a centrifuge, spinning them around, and simulating the physiological rigors of space flight. Mind you, this is just one study. But it’s nevertheless good news if you and your friends want to take a flight on, say, Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic spacecraft one day. Now all you’ll need is a spare $250,000, now payable in bitcoin.